Let’s talk about castles and medieval cities now, shall we?

Carcassonne is located in the southern part of France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.  It is made up of two towns, the Bastide St-Louis (the Lower City) and the fortified medieval Cité, where we stayed, which is the really cool part surrounded by a double line of ramparts.  The walls are huge!  They’re so tall!  I’m glad I wasn’t a soldier back in the day trying to take Carcassonne.  It seems like that would have been a very intimidating task.

You might recognize Carcassonne from the 1991 movie Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner, as they filmed parts of it here.

Inside the Cité, there are a lot of gift shops and restaurants, but there’s also a part Gothic/part Romanesque church, the Basilique St-Nazaire, that has beautiful stained glass windows, and a castle.

Walking around on the cobblestoned streets made me feel like I was stepping back in time.  I’m really glad that we got to stay within the city walls at the Best Western Le Donjon et Les Ramparts.  I loved the view from our window of all the roof tops below.

At night, they light up the outer walls of Carcassonne, which was a pretty amazing sight!  It reminded me of a fairy tale, or a Disney movie, but it’s real!

If you’re heading to France, I highly recommend you put Carcassonne on your itinerary!  You won’t be disappointed.

Bonjour Tout Le Monde!

I may be home from vacation, but I think my body is still on France time.

The good news?  You can be really productive when you get up at 5am.  It gave me some time to get caught up on my yoga “om” work.

Once again, Michael and I spent twice as long getting to our destination as anticipated.  We barely made it to Montreal due to fog, then had to run through the Montreal airport to make our connection, only to sit on the plane for an hour and be told that the engine didn’t work, so we wouldn’t be flying to Paris until the next day.

I will say this, Air Canada handled the situation way better than the United fiasco when we were trying to get to Hawaii.  A representative was waiting to give us a hotel and meal vouchers once we got off the plane (and cleared customs even though we hadn’t even left the country!).

Instead of making it to Paris Sunday morning and joining our coach tour Sunday evening as planned, we arrived in Paris Monday morning and missed meeting up with the tour, as they had left Paris and were on their way to Burgundy for a wine tasting.  Fortunately, while being stranded in Montreal, we were able to touch base with our tour director, Cindy, who gave us instructions on how to meet up with the tour in Lyon via train from Paris.

I was really disappointed to miss out on that first day in Paris, Burgundy, and initially meeting the rest of our group.  The good news is I discovered how easy it is to travel around Europe by train.  Maybe next time Michael and I will do Europe on our own.

Anyway, despite the initial hassle, the trip was awesome!

We went on Trafalgar’s Best of France tour.  I’ll discuss more about what I like about coach tours in future, but for now I will say that I really enjoyed visiting so many areas in France in only two weeks without having to figure out the logistics.  I really feel like I got a good overview of the country.

The tour took us on a big loop of the country.  We started and ended in Paris and visited the following cities:


Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere


Papal Palace




Corniche Drive



Cafe de Nuit that Vincent van Gogh painted



Basilica on top of St. Bernadette’s Grotto


La Rhune




St. Elmion

Chateau Chenonoceau


Mont St. Michel

Omaha Beach


Monet’s House and Garden



I ended up enjoying France more than I thought I would.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and I wasn’t exactly sure what French food was besides frog legs and escargots (neither of which we ended up eating).  I figured there was no way I would like it as much as I liked Italy last year.  To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what France had to offer besides the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the French Riviera.

Ironically, those weren’t my favorite parts!

I absolutely LOVED Chateau Chenonceau and Versailles!  Picture perfect and beautiful gardens!

And we got to stay within the city walls of Carcassonne in a medieval city!

Biarrtiz and St. Jean de Luz surprised me with their beaches right next door to the cutest Basque towns.  I found both places much more charming than Nice, which surprised me because I thought Nice would be my favorite place.

Normandy’s Omaha Beach stunned me with its beauty.  Who could believe that a place so beautiful witnessed such horrors sixty-eight years ago?

And the food!  Since we were on a tour, there were a lot of included dinners, and I didn’t always get to pick what I wanted, which can sometimes be tricky for me, since I am a little “choosy,” shall we say.  But what I liked, I absolutely LOVED!  Baguettes with every meal, croissants for breakfast, nougat and caramels (and Haribos) for a snack, the best cheeses, quiche, delicious ravioli in Nice, the tastiest arugula ever, and the best onion soup I’ve ever had!

Because France is so beautiful that I took so many pictures, I’m going to devote a full post to each of my favorite sites.  I can’t wait to share them with you!